The timer slowly ticked down as the score between Andover and Belmont Hill got closer and closer. The buzzer goes off just as a player on the opposing team chucks the ball at the backboard. The crowd was stunned to see the ball go into the basket, sending Boys Basketball into its first ever overtime game of the season. Despite putting up a valiant effort, the team eventually lost 78-81.
Fortunately, Andover beat Thayer and Deerfield 75-58 and 67-43 respectively, meaning that it’s game against Phillips Academy Exeter will determine whether or not the team clinches a playoff spot. The team’s record now stands at 11-10.
According to Jordan Rayford ’22 and Davian McDonald ’25, the team played well offensively against Belmont Hill. However, its lack of strength in the paint as well as it’s defensive play led to their loss.
Rayford said, “I think offensively we played very well. I think our problem was rebounding on defense, and then just getting stops at times. But I think on offense, we were fine for the most part. I think the reason we probably lost in the end was by just rebounding and defense.”
McDonald added, “We played really good on offense. I think that our main problem is they got 42 offensive rebounds. So even if you’re playing good defense, you put the shot up and get the rebound and be able to put it back. That’s how they got that game winner because they got an offensive rebound. That’s not a problem, but I mean, we played pretty good. You could have played better of course, but it was pretty good.”
According to Robert Nyamwaya ’24, there are certain improvements the team could make both offensively and defensively.
“I think offensively we can work on spacing and moving the ball, because sometimes we’ll be stuck and we’ll have nowhere to go. I think if we have more spacing around the court, on the offensive side, we’ll give him a lot more open shots… [Defensively,] I think we can work on help defense and communication. Sometimes you get mixed up on who’s guarding who and where they’re guarding them, so I think if we can communicate a little better, then we’ll be a stronger defensive team,” Nyamwaya said.
In the past, the team has found itself losing momentum during the second half of the game, according to Diego Velez ’24. By playing intensely throughout the full 48 minutes of the game, rather than slowing down after the first half, Velez believes the team can make major improvements.
“I think we can work on finishing games better. Usually we do pretty well in the first half, but then in the second half, we kind of slow up. So I think there’s always like short little parts of the games, where teams kind of make a comeback against us. And sometimes we end up pulling away, but sometimes it doesn’t go very well. And we end up losing the game. So that almost did happen [against Thayer],” Velez said.
According to Keenan Sparks ’24 and Velez, the team did well offensively by making a lot of shots in the game against Deerfield. However, it can improve defensively, similar to the game against Belmont Hill.
Sparks said, “In the second half, we played much better than the first half. And I think that really helped us and I think our ball movement was really good. And just making the next pass and trying to get great shots instead of good shots. I think that’s really what Coach [Terrell Ivory] emphasized.”
Venez added, “I think one thing we can do better is definitely rebounding, especially against a team like Deerfield who’s not [as strong as our team]. One thing they are good at is causing trouble for teams that are better than them. They do this by getting a bunch of rebounds and hustling more than other teams. And that’s what really keeps them in games most of the time, and we kind of have been victims of that twice now. But we still pulled away with the win.”
Sparks believes that the best way that the team can succeed is by mentally preparing for the next game. In their final game against Exeter, Sparks hopes the team will play with a positive mindset.
Sparks said, “I think our mindset going into the game is what’s most important. I think if we’re not ready to attack the defense in an aggressive manner or just not prepared for the game, that’s what’s going to hurt us… I think we just need to keep doing the things we’ve been doing in the past… and not revert back to how we played against whoever we lost or whenever we didn’t play to the best of our ability.”
Boys Basketball will next face a must win game against Exeter this Saturday to determine it’s fate in the playoffs.